From Physical Rags To Spiritual Riches – God Raises His Own Servant

Reverend Tu Zhijin, busy at his own desk again after an enriching time in TTC. Photo: Reverend Tu Zhijin

SINGAPORE — Reverend Tu Zhijin, a native of the mountainous regions of Baihe County in Shaanxi Province, is a New Testament lecturer at Shandong Theological Seminary. He was in Singapore from 5 – 31 August 2013 for a four-week attachment at Trinity Theological College (TTC). Tu is a beneficiary of the collaboration between the China Christian Council/Three Self Patriotic Movement (CCC/TSPM), TTC and the United Bible Societies (UBS) to raise the academic standards of Seminary and Bible School Teachers in China.
God Entered When Tu’s World Crumbled
“My father passed away when he was only 42 after being ill for eight years. In the poverty-stricken and backward village where I grew up, there was very little medical help. Neither could we afford to send him anywhere to seek further medical attention. And so, he died after years of physical suffering, leaving behind my mother, my brother and me.”

People who live in rural mountainous regions depend greatly on manual work for a living. Tu’s father was the main breadwinner and with his demise, the financial security of the family crumbled too. It was a dark time for his mother who was left to bring up two young sons alone. Yet, it is often in the darkest of times that hope shines brightest. At such a time, this family found God.

A visiting relative encouraged his mother to put her trust in Jesus. Out of desperation and despair, she did and God honoured her mustard seed faith. With newfound hope in life, Tu’s mother brought Tu and his brother to church. Under the loving care and support of the Christian community there, the brothers accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour too.

Called Into Service
Out of gratitude for how God had turned his family life around, Tu dedicated himself to serving full-time.

It was a meagre offering compared to the immense extent of God’s grace, but He accepted it and opened the way for me into Christian service.

In 1996, Nanjing Union Theological Seminary accepted his application and for the next seven years, by God’s gracious provision, Tu was able to pursue first a Bachelor followed by a Masters degree.

The seven years of academic pursuit were fraught with struggles and challenges. Friends and relatives could not understand why Tu’s mother would allow him to spend so many years studying when he could be working and providing for the family. Every home visit during term break was stressful and troubling because Tu was bombarded with numerous questions from these well-meaning neighbours and friends.

“Thankfully, God grounded me firmly in Himself and I did not buckle under pressure.”

Today, at 37, Tu is a Seminary lecturer and an ordained minister since 2006- a living proof of God’s power to lift a person out of the ashes of his life and use him for the work in His Kingdom.

God’s Word – The Light for Tu’s Path
The Bible has been a life-giving and life-enhancing source of spiritual help since Tu came to faith. When he was younger, Tu says he read the Bible without comprehending the depth of meaning within.

“But even then I knew there is no other book like it. So I just kept on reading.”

In Bible School, God’s Word came to life for Tu as he gained further knowledge and understanding under the guidance of teachers and Biblical reference materials. Since then, Tu has resolved to read the Bible once through every year.

During the different seasons of life, the Bible has been Tu’s comfort, encouragement, moral spur and mirror for self-reflection. Even in Christian service, it has been Tu’s prayer that God will empower him to teach the full truth of His Word accurately so that believers may be rooted and grounded in their faith.

Thanking TTC And United Bible Societies (UBS)
Tu feels thankful to God for the kind sponsorship of UBS. The attachment was enriching and invigorating in terms of professional skills upgrading.

“I have been deeply moved and touched by the generosity of these academic mentors. Because of their invaluable insights and suggestions, I have been able to improve on my teaching materials so that my students will also benefit from what I have learnt. What a wonderful way this is to help the seminaries in China improve the quality of service rendered to students. In turn, the whole Church of China will benefit from well-trained pastors and church workers.”


Story : Angela Teo
Edited: Jenise Lee
Photo: Reverend Tu Zhijin
2015 © United Bible Societies China Partnership